Preview: Listening Party with Derek Bermel and special guests John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Hannibal Lokumbe, Eugene Moye, and Melinda Wagner

I’m thrilled to invite you to the Listening Party we have planned for June 24th at 6:00p ET. Thanks to special permission from our partners at Carnegie Hall, we have a special opportunity to unlock previously unavailable recordings of symphonic performances by ACO from 1985-2012. Special guests—including ACO Principal Cellist Eugene Moye, and composers John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Hannibal Lokumbe, and Melinda Wagner—will be joining me to share their memories and experiences with ACO.

As we were planning for this event, I asked my colleagues to create a list of all the works performed by ACO in Carnegie Hall’s famed Stern Auditorium. They sent me a spreadsheet of over 400 works, performed over four decades, a quarter of which were commissioned by ACO. I had given myself a daunting challenge: to winnow the list down to a selection of nine works, a sampling that is by no means exhaustive or authoritative. We could host 10 listening parties and only scratch the surface of ACO’s vast performance catalogue!

Combing through the repertoire, I knew I wanted to showcase the diversity of styles represented. From grandiose and sweeping scores to modernist and minimalist strains, ACO’s roster of fearless musicians nimbly navigated the rapturous demands of this vast array of musical invention. Any orchestra devoted to American music must be prepared to tackle the enormous spectrum of influences that makes us a grand and complicated country. ACO has embraced this mission with boldness and integrity.

The list of acclaimed artists including conductors, soloists, and composers, who have shared the stage with our orchestra is astounding. ACO has welcomed artists as illustrious and wide-ranging as Leonard Bernstein, Keith Jarrett, Dennis Russell Davies, Steve Coleman, Catherine Comet, Tania Leon, Andy Summers, Kent Nagano, Vijay Iyer, Paquito D’Rivera, Itzhak Perlman, and Tan Dun. Over two decades, ACO has performed eight works by John Adams. Next week we will hear his My Father Knew Charles Ives (2007), which the composer conducted himself.

Short excerpt of My Father Knew Charles Ives by John Adams. Join the Listening Party on June 24, 2021 to hear more!

 At the same time, ACO has had a role in supporting emerging and lesser-known composers, who enrich our repertoire with their unique experiences and backgrounds. Years before she won the Pulitzer Prize in Music, Melinda Wagner’s Falling Angels was given its New York premiere by ACO at Carnegie Hall in 1995, conducted by Paul Lustig Dunkel (a renowned flutist and co-founder of ACO).

Short excerpt of Falling Angels by Melinda Wagner. Join the Listening Party on June 24, 2021 to hear more!

ACO has welcomed non-traditional composers like Laurie Anderson and Frank Zappa, whom listeners might not typically associate with orchestral music.  Since our founding 45 years ago, we’ve delighted in including voices from beyond the concert hall, embracing the synergy that these creative minds offer as they steer the ocean liner that is the modern orchestra.

Short excerpt of Songs for A E by Laurie Anderson. Join the Listening Party on June 24, 2021 to hear more!

Please consider joining us next week for this epic musical journey! Attendance is free, but advance registration is required. I look forward to seeing you then.


  1. Carman Moore
    June 16, 2021 at 8:18 pm

    Wonderful… This listening party is a great idea. See you then… CARMAN

  2. Eugenie C. Havemeyer
    June 16, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    How wonderful!
    I look forward to June 24 and plan to invite some friends to introduce them to ACO!

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